First impressions of the Tefal OptiGrill are great, you open the box to find the grill with a stylish stainless steel design. The OptiGrill is large, and it does take up quite a large amount of space on your work surface, but once you've made room it's easy to plug in and start using.
Some Key Features
As with all Tefal products I have used so far, the OptiGrill is intuitive and easy to use. I saw a demonstration of it at the event I attended and this was enough to teach me everything I needed to know to use the grill when it arrived in my home.
Everything you need to operate the OptiGrill is on the control bar and handle for the grill. From left to right you have the power button, defrost setting, six auto settings for burgers, chicken, bacon, sausages, steak and fish, the manual setting, 'OK' which confirms your choices and then a brightly coloured LED display to allow you to monitor cooking.
I had three steak medallions to cook for our dinner. Upon placing them into the grill and switching it on, I chose the steak button and pressed OK. This is where the OptiGrill gets clever. It measure the thickness of the food that you want to cook and electronically calculates the amount of time needed to cook your food. As soon as you press OK the LED display light turns purple. This tells you that the grill is heating up to the correct cooking temperature. As soon as the grill is at the correct temperature it begins cooking and the LED starts to cycle through the different colours. Each time it gets to a new level of cooking (yellow for rare, orange for medium and red for well done) the OptiGrill will beep to tell you. When it reaches well done it beeps and stops cooking but continues to keep the food warm for three minutes after it has finished. It's impossible to burn the food and, as long as you can hear the beeps you can carry on with other tasks while the OptiGrill cooks.
I cooked my steak medium, while my partner and Bud had well done. On balance I think I should have cooked mine medium-rare as it was slightly more cooked than I usually prefer, that's just personal preference though and I will know next time. I'll also make sure the lid applies a little more pressure to ensure that the sear markings are clearer. The two men in my life were very pleased with their steaks though. I also cooked two large mushrooms in the OptiGrill using the manual setting which worked brilliantly. The recommended maximum depth of food for the grill is 4cm and the mushrooms were close in depth to that prior to cooking, I'm happy to say that it dealt well with them and they were really tasty.
Another feature of the Optigrill I must tell you about is the tray which is used to collect cooking juices from your cooking food. I'm used to other grills where, when you use them, you end up with a drip tray full of water and fat, which can lead to dry meat. This doesn't happen with the Optigrill, it initially sears the food to lock in the flavour and juices but cooks healthily as no oil is needed.
In order to clean the OptiGrill you simply wait for it to cool down then pop a button on either side of the grill to remove the grilling plates.. These can then be washed in the dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one, or simply in soapy water. If you want to go from cooking steak, to say chicken, you can simply pour water on to the grill trays and this will pour off the grill into the drip tray taking the meat juices and debris with it and leaving it ready to cook again quickly.
I'm so pleased with the OptiGrill so far, the searing marks the food and looks so professional and the food tastes fantastic. I'm looking forward to trying out a variety of different foods - I'm sure it will be great for popping Bud's sausages on straight from the freezer to cook, and I'm also looking forward to some really crispy bacon sandwiches too. I'll definitely be leaving that on until well done! I can even see us using this in addition to our barbecue over the summer as it offers better, more reliable results than that.
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tefal Innovation Panel and have received the Tefal OptiGrill for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and unbiased..